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Conducting The Disciplinary Interview

We all have heard the Mom Wisdom: you have to eat your vegetables to grow up strong.  In the arena of business management, disciplining employees is the vegetable.  Businesses that have employees that follow the rules and have good attitudes are strong; businesses with employees that dance to their own tune are fundamentally weak.
In order to change the environment in a business that has allowed employees to call the tune, it is important to set expectations and enforce the expectations.  This week we will focus on conducting a disciplinary interview.  These meetings occur when the employee has already violated the rules.
The first step is preparation.  This preparation will include scripting the interview.  Your script should include:

1. What happened and why.

2. Has this employee been previously disciplined for the same problem? 

3. The consequence.

4.  If the consequence you are applying is more severe than consequences you've applied to other employees with the same problem in the past, you need to consider why you are applying a more severe consequence and if you have the documentation to explain why.

5.  What you will do to motivate the employee and what the employee must do to correct the problem.

As you conduct the interview a couple of helpful points to remember:

1. Get to the point, avoid small talk; this type of interview does not lend itself well to bonding behavior.

2. Focus on "I-statements” instead of "You-statements”.  For instance, "I want you to be at work ready to begin work at the beginning of every shift” instead of "You are 10 minutes late every day”.  You-statements tend to make employees defensive.

3. Listen actively to the employee to try and identify how you can solve the problem.

4. Utilize silence to get the employee to talk.  Most humans are uncomfortable with silence and will fill it.  In a disciplinary interview the employee may very well fill the silence with the information you need to find a solution to the problem.

5. Utilize open ended questions instead of close-ended questions.  For instance, "Did you yell at Mrs. Jones” is a close-ended question while "Why did you yell at Mrs. Jones?” is an open-ended question.  Other useful open-ended phrases are:  ”Tell me about …”, "Please explain…”, "Give me the details of ….”

My last tip is to be prepared for your employee's emotional reaction.  You may encounter hostility, defensiveness, insincerity, silence, tears, diversion or the persecution complex.  Next week we will explore how you can deal with each of these reactions.

I value your feedback.  Please email comments or suggestions to: beth@blockinsurance.net Or, email steven@blockinsurance.net  

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